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Izzo says Keon Coleman, Maliq Carr in 'tryout' period for MSU hoops

January 14, 2022
<p>Redshirt freshman tight end Maliq Carr lowers his shoulder through a tackle during the Spartans&#x27; 31-21 victory against Pitt in the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl on Dec. 30, 2021. </p>

Redshirt freshman tight end Maliq Carr lowers his shoulder through a tackle during the Spartans' 31-21 victory against Pitt in the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl on Dec. 30, 2021.

Photo by Devin Anderson-Torrez | The State News

After months of speculation, two of Michigan State’s most intriguing dual-sport prospects have finally made the shift from the gridiron to the hardwood.

The only catch? Nothing’s guaranteed.

Head Coach Tom Izzo announced on Wednesday that freshman wide receiver Keon Coleman and redshirt freshman tight end Maliq Carr will be regulars at basketball practice for what he called a couple weeks of “tryout.”

Not officially on the team, Izzo said Coleman and Carr might not be heavily involved in the flow of regular practice and drillwork but will work out throughout the test period. The trial serves as a way for the coaching staff to get an up-close look at what they can do as players and members of the team.

“I’m not expecting any visions of grandeur right now,” Izzo said. “Let’s see what they do, whether it’s worth their while to stick around.”

Coleman, a 6’4” dual sport three-star prospect out of Opelousas Catholic School in Opelousas, Louisiana, netted seven catches for 50 yards and one touchdown in his first football season in East Lansing. An explosive and athletic guard, he went viral in March 2021 for dropping a 41-point quadruple-double and routinely garnered attention for stuffing box scores in high-flying performances.

It’s qualities like this that even make Izzo recall one of the greatest dual-sport athletes of all time.

“Keon is obsessed,” Izzo said. “Keon reminds me of (Deion Sanders). He loved basketball, loved baseball, loved football. I think this kid’s in love with every sport there is and he works at it.”

Carr, a 6’5” transfer from Purdue and two-sport athlete from Oak Park High in Oak Park, Michigan, hauled in eight catches for 135 yards for Michigan State in 2021. Izzo said he knows Carr was typically used as a forward in high school and wants to play for the team. Carr has a special connection with the staff in his cousin, Associate Head Coach Dwayne Stephens.

Because it’s essentially the middle of the season, Izzo said they won’t be working on any fundamental aspects with them and will be focusing on the current roster instead. Regardless, he knows adding them will come down to more than just their aptitude on the court.

“They might not get into much of (practice) but that won’t be our key,’ Izzo said. “That’s no insult to them. They gotta fit in with this team … because our chemistry and camaraderie is good.”

This is far from the first time Izzo has pulled from the football team to add to his squad. Former wide receiver Matt Trannon, former tight end Dion Sims and former linebacker Aaron Alexander are among a few of the players that successfully navigated the dual-sport route over the years.

As both are on football scholarships, Carr and Coleman will not take up any scholarships from the basketball team if they are added. Nor, as Izzo pointed out, will their additions be on a need-based agenda, like when the basketball team added Trannon in 2003-04.

For now, they’ll get their shot. Izzo maintained an ambivalent tone to what might happen to Coleman and Carr as the Spartans enter the meat of Big Ten play.

“We’ll see what happens,” he said.

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